Mark 7: 24-30
By: David Hsu, Senior Pastor, West Houston Chinese Church
May 9, 2019
Jesus entered into the region of Tyre and Sidon, a Gentile territory where any good law-observing Jew will try to avoid. Jesus not only did not avoid it; we are told that he also entered a Gentile’s house. And it was there an unnamed Syrophoenician woman came begging Jesus to cast the demon out of her daughter. And it was then Jesus said these words in Mark 7:27: "Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs."
What is that all about? Now Jesus has said some controversial, non-PC things before, but this one is downright disturbing – to both the modern and ancient ears. Our Lord is fortunate that no one was tweeting to create a social media firestorm.
Not only did what Jesus say sound unfair, it sounded racist. Dogs was a common derogatory name the Jews gave to the Gentiles. (And the Gentiles had their unsavory names for the Jews as well). Few things cause discontent faster than our preoccupation with equality and fairness.
Yet Jesus’ words are not just provocative, they are provoking and revealing. Like the Master-teacher that he is, his razor sharp words revealed not only His primary mission to Israel (Mt 15:24), but also a test to further tip his hands with his purpose for the Gentiles. This woman’s reply: “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” reveals an unoffendable faith breakthrough – breaking the categories of our understanding of God and His purpose. Like Abraham being given the unthinkable command to sacrifice his son, when our sensibility would be badly offended into protest, these heroes of faith did not stumble. Rather they were provoked into a deeper place of faith and humility.
Our family used to love watching MasterChef together. During one episode, the contestants were given a Mystery Box Challenge, where the cooks had to work with the ingredients inside the mystery box and produce an impressive dish. The chefs that day were given a mystery box with contents that looked more like a compost box. The mystery box that day was full of kitchen scraps and leftovers, like meat bones, fish heads, vegetable peelings, leftover old bread and overripe fruit...(from an Asian perspective they really should have added some chicken feet for even more fun!) We loved watching the chefs go to work... Frugal moms and great chefs alike all know that these scraps can be magical ingredients for fabulous dishes.
It is for the sharing of bread that this Gospel will proceed, shattering all boundaries, spilling crumbs for all the hungry and humbled. What you think makes you superior really doesn't, and what you think offends your own sense of fairness and respect should not. Jews and Gentiles side by side in the same home and fed off the same loaf. In faith we are all reaching for crumbs, trusting the one and only Savior to turn the scraps and crumbs of our lives into a lovely feast for the sharing. Thank goodness the King of the Jews is actually the Savior for the world!
Lord Jesus, open our eyes and enlarge our hearts as we see the beautiful diversity You have planted here for Your own glory. I confess my own pride and prejudices, my selfishness and short-sightedness, things that are keeping me from the spiritual awakening You desire for us. Grant me an unoffendable spirit to bring Your Gospel to every corner of our city. Amen.